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Rutgers Men’s Basketball Game #26 Preview vs. Indiana

Includes how to watch, stats, and keys to victory

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch & Listen

Indiana (12-12; 5-7) At Rutgers (12-13; 2-10)

Where: The RAC (capacity 8,000)

Tip-off: Monday, February 5th at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: BTN - Brandon Gaudin and Robbie Hummel

Stream: BTN2GO

Radio: WCTC 1450 AM, WOR 710 AM, Sirius/XM 83 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM

KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #138; Indiana #92

(Note: Rutgers improved 13 spots since the two point loss to #3 Purdue)

KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 64 Indiana 63; Rutgers has an 51% chance to win

Vegas Line: Indiana opened -1, as of 6 AM Monday line moved to Indiana -2

Series History: Indiana leads the all-time series 5-0, including four wins as Big Ten foes

SB Nation Indiana site: Crimson Quarry

About Indiana

First year head coach Archie Miller has had an up and down campaign, as he rebuilds the Hoosiers program. They suffered 20+ point losses at home to Indiana State and Fort Wayne, but own top 50 wins over Notre Dame, Penn State, and Maryland. After beginning Big Ten play with a 5-3 record, Indiana has now lost four straight games, although the past three have come against conference leaders Purdue, Ohio State, and Michigan State. They are without 6’10” sophomore forward De’Ron Davis, who was averaging 9.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.1 assists in 15 games before suffering a season ending achilles injury. In addition, fifth year senior forward Collin Hartman has missed 8 games over three different stretches. He did return and played 9 minutes on Saturday after missing the previous two contests with a leg injury.

Indiana is just 12th in Big Ten play in offensive efficiency and they have not been a great shooting team this season, as they average 44.8% from the field, 30.2% from three-point range, and 65.7% from the free throw line. That’s a similar line to Rutgers, who are shooting 40.7%, 30.2%, and 63.9% comparatively. However, the Hoosiers are shooting 52.% from two-point range, while Rutgers is making just 42.7%. Indiana does have the 5th best offensive rebounding rate and free throw rate (efficiency in getting to the line) in conference play. They are averaging 72 points per game this season.

Defensively, the Hoosiers have the seventh best efficiency rating in league games and are second in the Big Ten with steal rate and turnover rate. They are also third in opponents offensive rebounding rate. Indiana hasn’t defended behind the arc well, as conference opponents are shooting 37.9% from three-point range, which is 12th in league play. They utilize mostly man to man and as our own Dave White pointed out after the Illinois loss, the Hoosiers play a pack line defense that has caused Rutgers fits at times in Big Ten play, aimed at taking away driving lanes in the halfcourt.

Here are per game statistical averages for key players on Indiana:

6’8” junior forward Juwan Morgan - 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals

6’3” senior guard Robert Johnson - 13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists

6’1” senior guard Josh Newkirk - 7.5 points, 2.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds

6’3” sophomore guard Devonte Green - 7.3 points, 2.2 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals

6’7” senior forward Collin Hartman - 5.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists

6’7” freshman forward Justin Smith - 5.2 points, 2.9 rebounds

6’4” freshman guard Aljami Durham - 4.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists

6’6” senior forward Freddie McSwain Jr. - 3.8 points, 4.3 rebounds

6’6” junior guard Zach McRoberts - 3.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals

Know Your Three-Point Shooters:

Robert Johnson - 44 of 132 for 33.3%

Josh Newkirk - 26 of 79 for 32.9%

Devonte Green - 22 of 77 for 28.6%

Collin Hartman - 15 of 53 for 28.3%

Rutgers Notes:

Senior captain Mike Williams (ankle) and sophomore forward Eugene Omoruyi (knee) are both out indefinitely with injuries......In Big Ten play this season, Rutgers is currently ranked 14th in offensive efficiency and 9th in defensive efficiency. Through 24 regular season games overall, their offensive efficiency is ranked 283rdout of 351 teams and the defense is ranked 19th per KenPom.....Rutgers has played the most difficult strength of schedule in the Big Ten through twelve games.

Keys To Victory

Second Chance Points Off Of Offensive Rebounds

En route to holding a +12 rebounding edge against Purdue on Saturday, Rutgers owned the offensive glass, producing a 15-7 edge in offensive boards and a 14-4 edge in second chance points. It was a major reason why Rutgers almost beat the top team in the Big Ten. For a unit that is so offensively challenged, effort on the boards and turning offensive rebounds into points is a major way to make up for their deficiencies. Whenever Rutgers has rebounded well overall in games this season, they’ve been tough to beat and they’ll need to do the same to overcome Indiana.

Turnover Margin

Indiana has the 6th lowest turnover rate on offense and 2nd best on defense in conference play. Rutgers is 9th on offense and 3rd on defense in Big Ten play. When the Scarlet Knights stopped turning it over against Purdue midway through the first half and protected the basketball well the rest of the way, they changed the game. It took away easy baskets for the Boilermakers and made them work for everything in the halfcourt, which turned into an advantage for Rutgers. Geo Baker and Corey Sanders need to navigate through the defense of Indiana and continue the active ball movement the Scarlet Knights played with in the halfcourt against Purdue. On the other end of the court, Rutgers needs to play great on the ball defense and force Indiana into mistakes and make them work hard for every basket.

Three-Point & Free Throw Battle

Both teams struggle shooting the ball from behind the arc, as well as the charity stripe. Indiana has only shot better than 35% from three-point range in just five games this season and the last time was a month ago against Minnesota. While Rutgers has only eclipsed that mark eight times this season, they’ve done it three times in their past six games, including making 6 of 12 on Saturday against Purdue. Issa Thiam (38.8%) and Geo Baker (36.4%) are the only two Rutgers players shooting better than 24% from three, so how they perform from deep is always important. The Scarlet Knights actually have a chance to outshoot its opponent from behind the arc in this game, which rarely happens.

On the free throw line, Rutgers has shot 70% or better in five of the past six games and they need to continue with that progress in this game. Indiana has been up and down all season and whichever team shoots better from the line in this game will have an advantage.

Avoid Letdown

Rutgers has struggled with consistency in year two under Steve Pikiell, which is typical in the early stages of a rebuild. They’ve played well against top 30 opponents per KenPom, as the Scarlet Knights beat Seton Hall, lost to Florida State by 5 points, lost to Michigan State on the road in overtime, and fell to Purdue by 2 points on Saturday. On the flip side, Rutgers lost to Illinois by 31 points, as well as suffered disappointing home defeats to two teams ranked 200+ in Stony Brook and Hartford. Which Rutgers team that will show up on Monday night, just over 48 hours since their hard fought defeat to the Big Ten leading Boilermakers is anyone’s guess. However, if the Scarlet Knights can bring energy and focus from the opening tip, they’ll have a chance to get its first win ever against a storied Big Ten program in Indiana.

The Big Three Need To Lead

Corey Sanders, Deshawn Freeman and Geo Baker all need to score and play well for Rutgers to have any chance. Sanders was on fire against Purdue and will look to continue his strong play for a second straight game. Deshawn Freeman was dialed in on Saturday and he's at his best when he is rebounding and attacking the rim with authority. Geo Baker seems to be moving past the freshman wall and has shot better of late. There is little mystery as to where Rutgers is going to get scoring production, as the injuries to Williams and Omoruyi have put even more pressure on these three players to produce points each game. They'll likely need to score a combined 45-50 points to win any conference game moving forward without its top two bench players.

In The Bonus

Both programs are coming off hard fought losses against top five teams on Saturday. It's a short turnaround for both and even more challenging for Indiana in having to travel for this matchup. It will be crucial for both teams to come out with energy and focus. Rutgers needs to draw from the home crowd and dictate the pace of play. If the scoring in this game is in the low fifties to low sixties, you have to like the Scarlet Knights chances. This is a major opportunity for them to turn the page from a recent rough patch and build off of their excellent play against Purdue. Beating Indiana, even in a down year for them, would be significant and give Rutgers some much needed positive momentum for this stretch run of the season.